Tissue from one deceased donor may be transplanted into as many as 100 individuals, improving their quality of life and even saving their lives (e.g. in the treatment of catastrophic burns). However, the use of tissues of human origin can result in unintentional transmission of disease. Such events can be prevented by scrupulous evaluation of donors, including laboratory testing of each donor close to the time of donation. Ideally, this should be done using a blood sample obtained prior to the death of the donor; however, this is not always possible.
The EDQM/Council of Europe, within the framework of a Grant Agreement with the European Commission, has led a project to better understand screening practices in Europe of blood samples obtained post-mortem. A group of leading experts in the field was set up to benchmark practices among European tissue establishments and develop recommendations to improve post-mortem donor testing. The results of this work have just been published (https://freepub.edqm.eu/publications/PUBSD-173/detail). The ultimate goal of the project is to support future policy decisions that will make it possible to increase the number of tissue donors while maintaining the required safety levels for the detection of infectious diseases.